After three meetings last week, the ASUCI Legislative Council voted to withdraw UC Irvine’s student government from the University of California Student Association (UCSA), passing the legislation on Feb. 27 with a vote of 8-2-2. The debate over this bill spanned over three Legislative Council meetings as comments went back and forth between members of the public discontent with UCSA, questions from council members, and explanations from UCSA President Kareem Aref.
The bill was authored by ICS Representative Patrick Chen and Executive Vice President Melissa Gamble, whose office deals with UCSA directly. Frustrations with UCSA that led to the passage of this bill stem from the EVP office, as they work closely with UCSA and witness the progress of the organization first hand. Every UC student government’s EVP office liaises between their respective campuses and UCSA with the exception of UC Davis, who decided to leave UCSA a few years prior.
Many arguments were made both in support and against this bill. The majority of the dissent came from the UCSA president who was present at all of the council meetings that discussed the bill, as well as skeptical comments about leaving UCSA from some members on the council.
Much of the dissent came from concerns that UCI would lose a voice in the selection process of the student regent and would no longer be part of unified UC organizing. However, members of the council pointed out with being in UCSA there is a “false sense of power” when it comes to having influence with the regents and that much of the affective organizing that happens with regards to student issues operates outside of UCSA.
During Thursday’s meeting, there were talks of possibly postponing the vote so that Leg Council members could attend the UCSA board meeting to be held on Irvine’s campus over the weekend; however, members of the public suggested that simply attending one UCSA board meeting would not provide the council members that have not been part of the organization in the past with the understanding that matches years of experience with UCSA. Many representatives of the EVP office have worked in and with UCSA for several years and were present to express their personal grievances and frustrations with the organization. Leg Council members in support of the bill echoed EVP representatives, saying that all of the work done with UCSA functions within the EVP office, so it would be important to take into account their complaints when voting.
Ultimately, the bill passed with eight yays, two abstentions, and two nays. The passage of this bill means that ASUCI will no longer pay UCSA membership fees and will no longer be involved with the selection of the student regent beyond the first round. Currently, UCI pays UCSA $28,880 in membership fees, which is garnered from a $1.50 annual student fee. For the 2013-2014 school year, UCI will pay its fees for fall and winter quarter, but will not spend the remaining approximately $9,000 on fees. The council made it clear that although this resolution passed, it will be up to next year’s leadership in the EVP office to decide whether or not they would like to become members of UCSA again.
Many of the EVP members that were proponents of this bill spoke about how they hoped for this bill to inspire genuine conversation about changes that UCSA needs to make and reiterated that the organization has done great work in the past. Over the weekend, UCSA board met in Newport Beach A at UC Irvine. One of the major items of the table was UCI’s departure from the organization.
Legislative Council meetings are held in Woods Cove B on Tuesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. and are open to the public.